Vascular surgeons will survive these ‘troubled waters,’ says SVS president

Kim Hodgson

The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) is a “solidly built bridge” across the troubled waters of the coronavirus pandemic, president Kim Hodgson, MD, today proclaimed.

The path to the other side of the current COVID-19 crisis may not be clear at the moment, Hodgson said, but vascular surgeons will get to that place, “and it can only be easier if we do it together, true to the heritage of vascular surgery, learning from each other as we go.” Hodgson delivered his communique in the SVS e-newsletter, Pulse, addressing a range of member concerns.

“In times like these there are more questions than answers, more anecdotes than series, and more doubt than clarity,” he said. “And that is why we have to react rationally and responsibly to these unknowns, secure in the knowledge that our specialty, our healthcare system, and yes our SVS, while shaken, are on a sound footing.”

Society business, led by executive director Kenneth M. Slaw, PhD, continues unabated in a virtual fashion, Hodgson explained. SVS members can also expect wellness efforts to be ramped up amid the presently precarious environment. “It is expected that our members will experience increased levels of stress and anxiety in these times of such uncertainty, proving the value of transitioning the Wellness Task Force into a standing Wellness Committee.”

Additionally, SVS Political Action Committee (PAC) dollars “are hard at work assuring that the voice of vascular surgery is heard and our contributions to healthcare recognized” as Congress reacts to the pandemic, continued Hodgson.

The frequency of SVS communications to members through Pulse will increase, he said, and now be “published weekly for the foreseeable future to serve as a ‘current’ source of information on the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. Anything truly requiring more urgent notification we would do in a separate e-blast, but in respect of your time and attention we try to limit those.”

A decision on the Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM), slated for June 17–20 in Toronto, is expected on Tuesday, March 31, following an SVS Executive Board meeting.

Meanwhile, two coronavirus-focused virtual Town Hall meetings have been arranged—the first of which will take place Friday, March 27 from 12 to 2 p.m.—in collaboration with Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston. Friday’s session will see participants discuss practice implications, with the second dealing with education and training implications.

“Over the several days that I have been crafting this communication I have watched as increasingly more proscriptive case-prioritization algorithms are posted on SVSConnect,” said Hodgson. “Sadly, it’s not just about the risk of transmission, but about the utilization of limited beds, ventilators, PPE [personal protective equipment], and, increasingly, staff.

“While vascular surgeons are not, at least initially, on the frontlines of this war, we have to accept that how we respond to this threat may impact the ability of our medical colleagues to both win this war, and do so without compromising their personal safety. Regardless of the site of service or the approach, our procedures consume resources. So when you are asked to only do emergencies, as many of us will be, please, make us all proud.”

Those aforementioned troubled waters, the president said, likely mean most everyone will be splashed. “But vascular surgeons are battle-tested leaders, not just on the frontlines, but in critical supporting roles; wherever we are we lead. We are all in this together and there is no reason to be learning this alone.

“Take comfort in knowing that your SVS is a solidly built bridge spanning these troubled waters, testimony to the wisdom of those who came before us and the investments that have been made, and that we will continue to advocate for the interests of all vascular surgeons and their patients as we cross over to the post-COVID side.”


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